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A twelve year story

My son Max turned 12 this weekend. As with every birthday, it triggers a lot of memories and reflection on where we started, and where we are today. The day after his birthday, we launched our second annual Santa's Little Hackers event. This has also made me stop and reflect on where we started just a year ago; in the moments I'm not sitting with my mouth open in shock at the number of applicants pouring in!

We started Santa's Little Hackers after making some switch adapted toys for Max's birthday last year. We shared them with his speech therapist and after agreeing all around how this would be something we could do for local kids and give them away for the holidays, Santa's Little Hackers was formed. We filed the paperwork to become a Colorado nonprofit, and then filed to become a 501c3 public charity, and both were accepted. We sent out a few emails and started a Facebook page and a very basic website to take requests. We held our Santa's Little Hackers event the first weekend of December, and sent out 160 adapted toys to children and adults across America. We knew it was a great event, and we had met a need unfulfilled anywhere else.

This year we have worked on sharing our mission within our local community. We have held a few toy hacking training events with schools and therapists, and have been gearing up for our launch November 1st. Our meetings still happen around our kitchen table, with Max giving input on what toys are fun and cool, and even which ones are good for the girls. Our board is small, but full of people passionate about making fun for the holidays accessible to everyone.

Twelve years ago when Max was born, I never could have imagined I would be the president of a nonprofit supplying toys to children and adults in the special needs community across America and seven other countries. I could hardly keep my eyes from crying around the clock from the worry and shock of having a very sick baby.

When we started Max in speech therapy at age 3, and saw the joy he got from making his cause and effect toys work, I never knew he would be able to use that same switch to tell me he loved me, or tell his teachers all the incredible things he keeps in his beautiful mind. Twelve years ago, I never could have imagined we would spend the months of October-December having our kitchen table covered in toy parts, making as many adapted toys as we can before our big event to keep up with the enormous demand.

That's the thing about reflecting. We stop and realize, maybe things were difficult - sometimes without any hope of getting better in sight. Reflection on those moments so many years ago reminds me, we made it through, we landed on our feet and we are better for the journey life has brought us through. Twelve years ago I never knew there were so many in need. My one and only goal was to deliver a happy healthy baby. We were led in another direction, and our lives are so much fuller because of it. I can promise your life will be fuller by being involved with our non-profit. Whether through requesting a toy, making a donation, being one of our elves to adapt the toys, or simply sharing our story, you will be helping us fulfill this mission of ours. You will be adding to the incredible story that started twelve years ago with me holding my perfect baby boy, wondering where life would take us.

Thank you for being a part of Santa's Little Hackers,

Deana Watson

Mom to Max, and President of MaxMods dba Santa's Little Hackers

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